Your Home’s Not Selling? Here’s Help

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Some homes sell quickly. Others sit for months. Buyers come to look, but then leave without making an offer. There are things, small and large, that can turn buyers off. Avoid these nine things and you can sell your home faster and for more money.

Street Cred
Buyers make decisions even before they enter the home. The yard is part of the house, so don’t neglect it. Make sure the lawn has no bare spots or weeds and is kept mowed. Trim bushes, spread mulch and if you don’t have flowers planted, place a few large pots of easy-to-grow flowers close to the door and keep them watered. In cold weather, keep walks and steps free of ice and snow. Repaint the door in a cheerful color that complements, not matches, the house.

What’s That Smell?
Sellers can become nose blind, but buyers are not. Bad smells will turn buyers off faster than anything else. Tobacco stench, cat (and to a lesser extent, dog and other pet odors), garbage, strong food smells and basement damp send buyers fleeing. As soon as you decide to list your home, take all tobacco use outside. Clean litter boxes and dog beds often. If necessary, hire a professional who’s an expert in removing offending odors. And, don’t use strongly scented air fresheners or sprays. They’ll just make buyers think there’s something you’re trying to cover up. Instead, put a lemon in the garbage disposal or use a natural potpourri.

I Know You!
Pack away the kind of personal items that might turn off a buyer. That includes sport team souvenirs, religious and political items, personal photos, quirky collections and related books, magazines and music. Buyers should not be able to tell anything about your hobbies, spiritual beliefs or politics. Let the buyers imagine themselves, not you, in the house. Another tip you might not think of: remove any sexually themed items. Really. Buyers will look in drawers and closets.

Low Down and Dirty
Buyers notice dust under furniture or dishes in the sink. Clean everything until it shines and keep everything spotless as long as the home is on the market. This includes closets, storage areas under sinks and especially the kitchen and bathrooms. Clean and put away dirty dishes as soon as you’re finished with them. Make the beds, clean bathroom mirrors, wipe out sinks and put the lid of the toilet down.

A Hot Mess
Pack up the clutter before the first open house. Stage the home so that the line of sight as you enter the front door is clear and not blocked by furniture. Remove all those little tchotchkes. If you want some ornamentation, go with one big piece instead of several small ones. And, the more light the better, so open (or remove) drapes and keep the lights on.

Don’t Be Square
If your house seems dated, you don’t need a full remodel. Change out those brass doorknobs and drawer pulls with newer styles. Replace kitchen and bathroom faucets and update the light fixtures. You don’t need to spend tons of money on this, but don’t go super cheap. Buyers will know the difference.

You Bug Me
Vermin won’t just discourage a buyer; these creatures will have them fleeing as fast as they can move. Even the idea of roaches, ants, mice and rats sharing living space gives most people the heebie-jeebies. Creatures spread disease and cause damage to houses. Check for evidence of infestations and call an exterminator if necessary. Then, keep food in airtight containers, cover garbage cans, block small holes in the foundation with steel wool and do whatever you can to keep your home pest free.

Hire a home inspector to document any problems; have them fixed and arrange to have the inspector come back to certify the fixes, especially with storm damage. If you live in a termite-prone area, get an inspection and certification proving that your home is termite free before the home goes on the market. Fix every dripping faucet, running toilet, hole in the walls or other seemingly minor problems. Unless you are selling a fixer-upper, your home should be in excellent repair. To seal the deal, offer your buyer a one-year seller-paid warranty on plumbing, electrical, air conditioning and heat. In most areas, these are available for a few hundred dollars, a small price to pay to give buyers some peace of mind.

Some sellers think that watching HGTV makes them experts. But Realtors are professionals, trained and experienced. Trust your agent to properly price your home. If your house has been on the market for more than three weeks beyond the average sale time for a home in your neighborhood that is similar to yours, it might be time to lower the price. If your agent suggests a price cut, you should listen.
And here’s to signing your sales agreement quickly!

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